That GOP Pardon List Getting Pretty Crowded With People Who Think They Didn't Do Anything Wrong
File:LOGO PARDON I.png - Wikimedia Commons

“I’ve decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works,” coup-coup for Coco Puffs lawyer John Eastman emailed Rudy Giuliani after the Capitol Riot. And he wasn't the only one!

At yesterday's House January 6 Select Committee hearing, Rep. Adam Kinzinger described a campaign by his fellow Republicans to score Get Out of Jail Free cards from then-President Trump after fomenting the insurrection. Mark Meadows's aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that she had personal knowledge that Reps. Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, Louie Gohmert, and Scott Perry wanted to be on that pardon list, and had heard that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene asked Patrick Philbin, the number two guy in the White House Counsel's Office, for one, too, just a few days after being sworn into office.

"Saying ‘I heard’ means you don’t know. Spreading gossip and lies is exactly what the January 6th Witch Hunt Committee is all about," Greene snarked on Twitter. Which is not a denial. In fact, it seems more like a dare. And, although Philbin and his boss Pat Cipollone refused to be properly deposed and only appeared for an untranscribed interview, the committee got a whole passel of presidential records from the National Archives. If there's something in the White House call or visitor logs, or in Philbin's notes, they'll find it.

Rep. Perry introduced Justice Department attorney Jeffrey Clark to the president and pressed hard to have the environmental lawyer made acting attorney general so he could announce federal investigations into non-existent electoral fraud in swing states and give Republican-dominated legislatures a pretext to steal electoral votes and give them to Trump. In Hutchinson's testimony, Perry appears to have been chiefly concerned with his own hide — and for good reason! Particularly in light of yesterday's raid on Clark's home.

Naturally, Perry denies the allegations. “I stand by my statement that I never sought a presidential pardon for myself or other members of Congress," he told the New York Times. "At no time did I speak with Miss Hutchinson, a White House scheduler, nor any White House staff about a pardon for myself or any other member of Congress — this never happened.”

Rep. Brooks, who addressed the pitchfork mob on the Ellipse, isn't denying that he asked for a pardon. In fact, he released the letter he sent on January 11, 2021, after Trump told him to put his pardon plea in writing, purporting also to be asking "pursuant to a request from Matt Gaetz."

Brooks was worried that "deep-pocketed and vitriolic Socialist Democrats (with perhaps some liberal Republican help)" will target "numerous Republicans with sham charges deriving from our recent fight for honest and accurate elections." He recommended "general (all purpose) pardons" for all the Republicans who put their names on Texas's preposterous Supreme Court suit seeking to invalidate 20 million swing state ballots, as well as every congressional Republican who voted to reject electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania.

To be entirely fair, the letter does give the lie to the accusation that "only guilty people seek pardons." Brooks is so far off the flat edge of the earth — not to mention so convinced that Democrats would weaponize the Justice Department in exactly the way Trump and his band of goons tried to — that he sought pardons for legislators objecting to electoral ballots in exactly the manner laid out in the Electoral Count Act. Which is more an acknowledgement that Brooks is batshit crazy than an admission of guilt.

Rep. Matt Gaetz is the most interesting, in light of his most interesting legal issues. He reportedly sought a blanket pardon for any and all criminal activity he might have engaged in since his balls dropped. That would presumably include sexually trafficking a minor, you know, just by way of example of one of the crimes for which that blanket pardon would make all a randy rep's legal problems disappear. But Gaetz, who is not known for his excellent judgment, appears to have asked the wrong guy to help him.

"The pardon that he was discussing, requesting was as broad as you could describe, from the beginning of time up until today, for any and all things," Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann said, rolling his eyes. "He mentioned Nixon, and I said Nixon's pardon was never nearly that broad."

According to Maggie Haberman, "A person who worked with Eric Herschmann in the Trump administration just said Matt Gaetz 'couldn't have picked a worse person' to approach about a pardon at a time when, it was learned not long after, Gaetz was under federal investigation for an unrelated matter."

In the event, Steve Bannon got a pardon, and Kush's dad got a pardon, and Kush's business partner got a pardon, and a bunch of Republican donors got pardons, and all these politicians who shredded their reputations for that orange idiot, not to mention the rioters facing actual jail time, got bupkiss. Presumably Trump didn't want to expend the political capital to rescue them, since it would read as an acknowledgment of his own guilt. And that was probably a pretty good political calculation, since these losers are still clinging to his coattails 18 months later, even as the participants in his fake electors scheme are all getting grand jury subpoenas.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off.

[NYT / Politico]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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